• Patrick McAndrew

The Parental Role Model

Paulo Coelho, author of the amazing book The Alchemist, has a great quote about children.  He says, “Children can teach adult people three things: to have a joy without a reason, to be busy with something all the time, and to demand—with all power—what they want.”  These are some words to live by indeed.

A recent news story has gone viral.  In Ms. Beason’s second grade class, students were given an assignment to write about something they wish had never been invented.  As it turns out, four out of the twenty-one students said they wished the mobile phone had never been invented.  One student wrote, “I don’t like the phone because my parents are on their phone every day. A phone is sometimes a really bad habit.”

The little ones speak words of wisdom.  Just last week I questioned whether kids still play or not.  It’s no question that technological devices are entering the hands of children, preventing them from engaging in more physical and fulfilling activities.  But it’s rare that a child can afford these technological gadgets on their own; the parents put them in their hands.

I’m not a parent (at least not yet), but from what people tell me it’s a pretty difficult job.  I imagine it would be; you are taking care of a human life!  Talk about responsibility!  With kids being their exhausting selves, it’s natural to give them an iPad and have a well-deserved break.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with this.  What parents do need to be careful about is being on their phones when their children want to engage.

There have been many times where I have seen toddlers in their parents laps while the parents are on their phones, or kids in their strollers while the parent is scrolling while strolling.  I’ve even seen a kid go up to his mom and be shooed away because the mom was too busy on her phone.  No wonder kids are writing about how they wish the mobile phone wasn’t invented!

Time is a precious asset and people, especially adults, tend to waste it away on endless, useless noise on their phones.  Because our devices can keep us mindlessly stimulated, we actively decide to be passive.  We actively decide not to partake in more meaningful activities because we succumb to the temptations of passivity.  We don’t learn a new language.  We don’t learn to play the piano.  We don’t have a dinner date with a group of friends.  And we don’t give our children the attention they need when they are growing up.  Humans are creatures of habit and if parents establish the habit of being on their phones most of the time, then their kids are going to adopt the same habits.

I have many fond memories of being a kid.  And, as I look back, the time flew by!  As a parent, those years fly even faster.  As smartphones have become so engrained into our culture, we must not let them consume our time.  We must put them away to spend time with our kids.  Before you know it, they will be grown up.

Kids are very wise, as are the elderly.  We can learn a lot from both ends of the spectrum.  Barbara Bush once said, “At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent.”  Real relationships are the key to a fulfilled life.  Don’t let these go by the wayside because you had to finish sending your hundredth email for the day.

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